anonymous on August 30, 2011

We want to have sex for the first time, but it hurts! What’s the problem?

My boyfriend and I are both virgins...but we tried to have sex for the first time a couple nights ago. When he started to enter me, I felt a sharp pain. He could put the full length of his fingers in me comfortably, but his penis caused me pain. So we ended up not doing anything. Do you have any advice?

answered by Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD on August 30, 2011

Thanks for sharing your question, and I’ll do my best to help.

First, keep in mind that – for most people – the first time usually isn’t what they expect. Also, there’s a lot going on the first time you have intercourse – emotionally, as well as physically – so it’s a good idea not to assume that your first experience is what intercourse will usually be like for you.

Also, it’s common for women to feel pain the first time…and there can bea few different reasons for this.

For one thing, it’s important for women to be well lubricated (or “wet”). So really spending some time engaging foreplay can make things easier and more enjoyable. And if you find this isn’t enough for you, keeping some lubricant by the bed is a good idea. Water-based lubricant needs to be re-applied periodically since the water part dries out.

Taking the time to become sufficiently aroused is also important because, during this process, a woman’s vagina actually lengthens, and becomes wider and more receptive. So, again, be sure to take some extra time to kiss and, if you enjoy it, have your boyfriend caress your breasts, which can help releaseoxytocin in the brain.

Oxytocin is a hormone that makes the uterus contract (which is also important during labor) andhelps with lubrication. It can even help a woman achieve orgasm andinfluences the strength of the orgasm.

Trying other positions may also be less painful for you. For example, you may want to try being on top. That way you have more control over how fast or slow you want to go, and how much of the penis you want inserted as you go. In other words, this position may help give your body a chance to get used to what intercourse feels like. And since you have more control, you may be less likely to tighten up.

Something else that can cause pain with first-time intercourse is if a thin membrane – called thehymen – is broken. Some women don’t have a hymen, or it may have already broken from exercise or other things. But, in some cases, the hymen is thicker and still intact at the time of a woman’s first experience with intercourse…if so, the first time the hymen is penetrated, it can cause some pain and bleeding.

What about birth control? You didn’t mention whether you’re using any form of birth control. For one, latex condoms can help prevent an unwanted pregnancy, and lower the risk of you or your boyfriend spreading any sexually transmitted infections…and for safer oral sex by your boyfriend, I would encourage him to use latex dental dams. I also recommend that you to speak with your doctor about your options in more detail…and you and your boyfriend may also benefit from reading through our Expert Guide to STDs.

Finally, now that you’re sexually active, be sure tosee your doctor for yearly exams and a Pap smear. This testlooks at cells from your cervix to make sure there’s nothing suspicious that might indicate the possibility of developing cervical cancer later on.

Thanks again for your smart question, and I wish you good sexual health.

Related Info:

Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD

Dr. Owens is an AASECT-certified sexuality counselor. Her areas of expertise include the medical aspects of human sexuality and sexual problems, as well as the impact of STDs ⎼ and other diseases, illnesses and disabilities ⎼ on sexuality. Dr. Owens was educated at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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